Annoying Quirks in Audacity and How to Fix Them for Voice Over Recording

girl on micTo record voiceovers you need four things:  A computer, a microphone, headphones and a recording application.  You can get fancier if you want, but these four items will get you where you want to go.  I recommend Audacity as a effective and simple program to record your voice over demos.  It’s easy to use, it produces high quality audio and it’s FREE.  You can’t beat that.  But Audacity has some “idiosyncrasies” that drive me crazy.  Here are the top three annoying oddities and how to work around them.

1) You hit “RECORD” and you get a new track.  Always. Again and Again.

The first time I saw that, it was definitely a WTF moment.  I recorded a small commercial and I wanted to redo a line in the middle of the copy.  So I put the cursor right before the passage I wanted to replace and hit record… and… WTF?  Why is it creating a NEW TRACK?

Don’t look in Preferences to fix this one.  The simple fact: Audacity CANNOT “punch in” like an old-fashioned tape recorder.  So here’s what you do.

First go to Transport >> Overdub and set that to ON (you should normally have it off).  That way you can hear your original recording to match the sound.

overdub onNext Highlight the section you want to replace and Silence Audio with Control L (or command L – Mac).

Rewind and hit record.  You’ll hear your original recording in your headphones until the silent part comes.  Here you say the sentence you want to replace.  The recording for this will be on a new track but right below the silent part.

 

 

Highlight only the replacement recording and use this magic key combination:

  • Control C (copies the new audio)
  • Up Arrow (selects track one)
  • Return (highlights selection in track one – same size)
  • Control V (pastes new audio in track one)

Then click the X in the corner of the second track to remove it.

Here it is in pictures:

select new audio

Select your new audio

 

both selected

Press Up Arrow and then Return–Both tracks are highlighted

paste in place

Control V — Paste the New Audio on first track

What if I want to add new audio to the END of a track?

That’s easy.  Instead of hitting “record”, hit Shift R.  This is “Append Record”.  Your new audio will be added to the END of the track, rather than on a new track.

2) You hit “STOP” and Audacity automatically rewinds.

Ahhhhh!  Experience this one when you’re editing an audiobook!  You’re 20 minutes into the edit and audacity snaps back to the beginning of the recording.  I still haven’t figured out exactly when it does this.  But when it does, you have to look back through the track to find where you were working.

There are two ways to manage this.

First, when you’re editing, click in the track to place the cursor there.  Then STOP will return to where you placed the cursor, not to the beginning of the track.

Second when you are playing the track from the beginning and you want to stop at a certain point, don’t hit STOP!  Instead, hit Shift A.  This will stop the playback but leave the cursor in place where you stop, rather than returning to the start.

3) You start Audacity and your mic is not in the “input” list.

If you leave your mic plugged in, this should not happen, but it might.

Always plug you mic in FIRST and then start Audacity.  Otherwise Audacity won’t know the mic is active and it won’t show up on the list.

But just in case you don’t see your mic, or you plug it in late, Audacity Transport Window to the rescue!  Go to Transport and select Rescan Audio Devices.  Your mic or any added audio devices should now be on the list!

scan devices

Select Rescan Audio Devices to find your USB mic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So do YOU have tips or fixes for using Audacity?

Help your fellow voice talent by leaving a comment below.  And make this job easier.  We can all use a little help, can’t we?

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5 Responses to Annoying Quirks in Audacity and How to Fix Them for Voice Over Recording

  1. Eldon says:

    So VERY HELPFUL. Thank You!

  2. Mindy Goldhammer says:

    This info was tremendously helpful to a newbie such as myself. I will still need to meet in person to watch how this is all done so I can take notes and begin to learn on my own.
    You haven’t missed a trick William in educating us for our voice over careers.
    THANK YOU!!!
    All the best,
    Mindy

  3. Brian says:

    Number 1 and 2 are truly annoying features of a great program. Thank you Audacity Sensei for showing us the light.

  4. jd martin says:

    As always William,”You’re tha Bomb!!” Thanks.

  5. Tay Tay says:

    Thank you so much, i am a VA (voice actor) and I have had some problems and they were on this list!! THANK YOU!

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